This is a guest post byÂ Charlotte Debeugny of Nutrition in Paris.
The NHANES study which was published last month linked high intakes of animal protein to an increased risk of cancer in the under 65’s. Â The emphasis is on the animal proteins as the study found no additional risk from the consumption of vegetables proteins such as beans and lentils. Â Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation seem likely to recommend that total added sugars are reduced to 5% of our daily intake – approximately 100 calories for an adult which this equates to 25g or 5 tsp of sugar. Â As for fats? Â Are saturated fats really as deadly as they seem?! Â Another study released last month found no link with saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease. Â Dazed and confused? Â Just slightly! So what guidelines should we follow in light of these new studies to keep us healthy and strong?
‘Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much!’ Â a la Micheal PollanÂ
Cook fresh foods
As high levels of sugar, salt and fat are found in most processed foods along with additives and flavoring, it makes sense to cook yourself so you can control what is in your food. Â When it comes to salt, it’s only really processed foods that you need to worry about. Â Adding small amounts of salt while cooking and at the table is not really the issue.
Limit the sugars
Remember the magic 5% and 10% rules. Â No more than 5% of your daily calories should come from added sugar and any food which contains more than 10 % sugar is high in sugar! Â While white carbs such as white pasta and bread do not taste sweet, they are broken down rapidly by the digestive system and raise blood sugar levels in exactly the same way as sugar. Â Select the brown stuff where possible, limit the portion size to 80-120g cooked weight, and always eat with a protein food and additional fiber as this helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Base your meals around vegetables mediterranean style
Ramp up the veggies as there is more and more research to say that they are really important for our health. Â Struggling to reach 5? Â One large mixed salad contains about 2-3 servings of vegetables. Therefore, if you aim for 1 mixed salad a day plus at least 2 servings of cooked vegetables, you can easily achieve this goal. Â As for fruit? Â Whole fruit is still undeniably good for us, though vegetables seem to have the edge. Â Aim for 2-3 servings of whole fruits per day. Â The fruits which are the naturally lowest in sugar are the berry brigade such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries……
Vary your proteins
While the study linking excessive proteins to cancer has been fiercely disputed by fans of the Â Paleo and low carb approach, we certainly don’t need 2 large servings of animal protein a day. Remember that a serving of animal protein is about 120g and don’t forget your low glycaemic vegetable proteins such as lentils, beans and tofu.
Eat the good fats, not the crap ones!Â
The ‘crappy’ fats once again tend to be disguised in processed foods. Â Aim for a healthy mix of monounsaturated (olive oil and avocados) and omega 3 (oily fish, nuts and seeds). Â There’s currently a question mark over whether too many omega 6 fats are bad for us (found in plant oils such as sunflower oil) so for the moment play safe and limit the consumption of omega 6. Â While the recent study into saturated fats found them to be ‘neutral’ for cardiovascular health this certainly does not give us a green light to tuck into them yet! Â Moderate your saturated fats (found in dairy foods, red meat, palm and coconut oils) until the research proves conclusively otherwise!